Remote job: 318: Global SaaS Powerhouse ActiveCampaign CEO Jason VandeBoom Talks About the Importance of Following Your Instincts
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Jason VandeBoom, Founder & CEO, ActiveCampaign
Founder and CEO of ActiveCampaign Jason Vandeboom sits down with Foundr’s Nathan Chan to discuss his journey from launching a small part-time business to running a global SaaS empire.
An email marketing, marketing-automation, and sales CRM platform, Jason owes the company’s success to its “customer first” approach and mindful framework.
By throwing out the “product-first SaaS playbook” to a more customer-centric model, ActiveCampaign has evolved from an old-school on-premise contact management company to over 90,000 customers in 161 countries.
Jason doesn’t believe in a time-box window for creation, and he discusses his belief that you can create innovation over time. He says that when it comes to building a business that is sustainable and long-term, you have to start with the right framework.
With many small businesses facing uncertainty due to Covid-19, ActiveCampaign has made it their mission to provide support and security for their customers. Jason discusses how “there’s a former digital transformation that […] has become a necessity.” Above all, business is about trusting your instincts and trying to find a path that is a different shape to others.
If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email.
Jason discusses his belief in the importance of staying true to being a small business
How ActiveCampaign found its footing as an on-premise contact management businesses
Why Jason believes the key to a successful business is customer-first over product-first, and how this can shape creative innovation
How ActiveCampaign slowly built its foundations in order to secure 100k paying-active companies and over $100 million in annual recurring revenue
Why you should ignore the typical SaaS playbook that insists that in order to obtain growth you will need to upmarket
Jason advises that you should always trust your instincts, and allow time for your company to grow. You only need passion, joy, and the strength to find our way through it all.
Full Transcript of Podcast with Jason VandeBoom
Nathan: The first question I ask everyone that comes on is how’d you get your job?
Jason: I got it out of necessity in a way. I started Active Campaign, not for any grand vision or anything like that. I was looking to pay for art school at the time. And so, I was doing consulting, didn’t want to continue to repeat doing that, wanted to fine-tune on something, build or craft something over time. So, I created Active Campaign, and from there I’ve been able to continue to do what I set out to do so long ago.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. Is Active Campaign your first business?
Jason: Yeah, in a way, and I pause a little bit because when I was 12 or 13 I started doing a bunch of programming in consulting. Would find different businesses where I was growing up, and throughout the country, where I could just find some work. It initially started with webdesign, things like that. Grew into more custom software and custom instruments. That was my … That was a business, and I always thought of that as a business, but otherwise Active Campaign has been the remainder of my life a very simple resume at this time.
Nathan: Yeah. Okay, interesting because … Yeah, look, I’m very familiar with the company, the brand. You guys are a very, very well known email service provider. I’ve heard great things, to be honest, from a lot of my friends. Especially around email deliverability. But before we jump into that, this is a pretty hot space. There’s a lot of email service providers out there. In 2003, what exactly was it … What was the problem? How did it come about? How did this start?
Jason: Sure. In 2003 there were fewer options for solving such a problem, so we started with contact management, but we solved it with the idea of having someone download software, instal on their server. More old school on-premise way of doing things. We were competing with brands like [LERIS] at the time, and whatnot. And then, as we had customers, we started developing software for whatever need we had. Once we had more support tickets, we built help desk software. Once we wanted to talk to those customers more in real-time, we built live-chat software. And so, Active Campaign for the first 10 years went from one to eight products, all on-premise products, but all having a focus on the customer and automation. Because during that period of time where we went from one to eight products, we only went from one to eight people.
So from a team standpoint, this wasn’t the most logical path to building a business or focus. But this focusing on all these different aspects of the customer experience allowed us to really understand that this automation we were trying to do in each individual area, we thought we could find much greater value for ourselves and our customers to bring that out. Focus on customer data, focus on automation. As a focal point, allow messaging, email marketing and things like that to be part of it, but how can we help automate the entire customer experience? And so, that led to this idea of what we’re doing with the on-premise software and whatnot, we could instead of continuing to build up all these different tools, let’s just focus on contacts, customer data, automating the entire customer experience. And we made the decision to go from eight products to one, switch that over to software as a service, and that’s probably … You’re probably less aware of the Active Campaign from back then, compared to the one today, right?
Today we’re very much focused on customer experience automation, and it’s such a busy category. Like, to your point, there’s so many different players. I think a lot of time when people are building businesses they almost look at that as a negative, whereas I see that as … That it’s an area of opportunity, and you obviously have to differentiate, but often times those extremely busy markets or categories have the ability to go in there and transform it, and they’re quite large.
Nathan: Okay, that makes sense. Couple of questions. When did you move to the SAS model? When was that?
Jason: Yeah, we were fully switched over as company by 2016. So for contact [crosstalk].
Nathan: [inaudible] 2016, not that long ago.
Jason: Yeah. And so, we started thinking about that. We started figuring out starting to transition before that, but we spent so much time … And we could have done it sooner, and with the compounding nature of SAS, would it even be in a different state today if we did that sooner? Probably. I like to not think about that too much. It’s also, what we were spending time on was like, “Okay, what happens? Are we going to completely erode existing business?” Which was a profitable, sustainable … It was a good business, and we didn’t want to end up in a worse spot. At the same time we were overthinking like, “What do we need to do?” Like, “What do we need to do infrastructure wise?” And thinking about all these things, and thinking about most of those things actually fairly incorrectly because we were just making guesses of the future. So that fear of success and that fear of what will happen, and almost over planning during that period of time probably wasted a year or so of this ability to transition over.
But ultimately we were able to do that, work with our customers, try to bring a lot of those customers to this new offering. But for the ones that didn’t want to go, it’s always been very important to me that we continue to support them. So even today, every time we have a new hire class, I’ll go through and I’ll show a recent example of us talking to one of the on-premise customers from back in the day. Because I think it speaks a lot to being customer first as an organisation, which I think is extremely critical, even more important than being product first.
And you have to be authentic if you’re doing that. Being customer first, you can’t just throw that on a banner and be like, “Customers are number one,” or all the generic stuff that’s usually out there. Living by it means you’re giving something up, right? So it means something on paper might not make sense. It’s like, we support on-premise customers from way back in the day. Obviously, there’s less support today in regards to that, but not abandoning the customers that help you get your business going.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow, that’s interesting. I can’t believe that you moved to SAS only in 2016, because SAS has been booming a long time before that. I’m curious, how come it took so long to come to that conclusion?
Jason: That’s a great question. We had a solid business. We started offering some versions of SAS and whatnot prior. We were dabbling with it, if you will. It was just a … If you only ask your customers what to do, if you only look at that, often times you end up at a result that’s not best for your business, or more importantly for themselves. Our customers were looking to save time, right? And they were looking to save money. They were growing businesses. The greatest challenge we had was they thought that a reoccurring subscription or something like that would cost them more, right? But they weren’t valuing their own time.
So as we were trying to work with our customers and bring them over to SAS, it was an education in marketing. Experiment of sort, of helping articulate to them what their time is worth and whatnot, and how they can unlock more. And as we did that, it started building this idea within our company of we can’t just be a tool. We have to always be this … How do we be more of a partner to a company, versus just a software, just a platform, or just a set of functionality. And so, that bleeds right into a lot of things we do today. So, instead of like with a lot of automation platforms, you get a lot of options, and you have to figure it out, or work with a consultant. We started off with hundred of recipes and ideas. You can just click on one to get started, and that creates these light bulb moments you can customise to your business.
But still, with all that said, could we have moved faster? Absolutely, and with compounding SAS, it probably would have made sense. But at the same time I think it’s … People look at so many different things about there’s a certain time window to do it. And I think it creates a really unhealthy pressure within businesses. And it creates for some environments where people push too fast at the wrong times. Meaning like, even in the last couple of years we’ve gone from 20 people in 2016 to over 600 today. A lot of people [crosstalk]. Yeah, but a lot of people would look at our business and say, “You’re growing way to slow. You should have grown faster last year.” And on paper, I can’t necessarily argue with all of that. If the same time, if you dig a little deeper, and you understand to build something … If you’re looking to build it sustainable, looking to build it longterm, you have to have the proper framing. You’re building, just like you’re building your product, you’re building your platform. You’re building that business. There’s a rate of speed at which probably makes sense.
I think sometimes we think about it as … And I think we’re a good example. If you look at the space, it seems like such a busy space. Surely, if you have some uniqueness you must quickly gather it all, because it’s all going to go away. But it’s quite the … I think there’s certain situations where maybe that’s true, but all too often I think that’s a false pressure put on businesses and founders in the way of how they have to operate.
Nathan: Yeah, I see. So usually it’s … You want to scale up and take the market. So, have you guys raised any VC?
Jason: Yeah, late 2016 we did a series A of 20 million. Just more recently we did a series B of a 100 million. So we have, but in a different way of not wanting to put ourselves into a spot where we had to. And also not wanting to put ourselves into a spot where we couldn’t pursue what we thought was best. I talk about internally, we always talk about optionality. And that comes by [inaudible] the type of customers you work with. So really early on we started creating this idea of we won’t have a customer more than half a percent of our revenue. And the reason for that is, I was used to getting to some consulting things and whatnot. And then, all of sudden you have one big customer and you start designing for the spec, right? Whether you want to or not, you’re ultimately going to start to. We’ve been able to bring that, and maintain that philosophy. Lucky now revenue’s pretty high, so half a percent of revenue is a pretty big number. But I think that also allows you to create something that is innovative, that is actually changing something.
Because otherwise, if you just go after … If you treat your customers’ feedback as your roadmap, you’re just doing what people say. You’re repeating what’s in the market. You’re solving for a known problem, instead of actually innovating on top of it. And if you can find the way, and it’s not always possible, but if you can find the way to have that optionality and not be just at the will of your customers, or segments of your customer base, it’s certainly a powerful thing.
Nathan: Yeah, I see. Just for clarity for the audience, would you be able to give any numbers around traction, revenue, users?
Jason: Yeah. We just passed a 100,000 paying active companies, which is pretty exciting for us, and we’re over a 100 million in annual reoccurring revenue. It’s a lot of hundreds going on lately for us between our series B and all that stuff.
Nathan: Yeah. Yeah, so you guys would be probably a unicorn, right?
Jason: Yeah, some people obsess about that, or think about it. I go to great length, and this goes back to the customer first thing of bringing it all to customers. When we were going to talk about hitting a 100 million ARR, we did that a while ago. We could have talked about it earlier, but I want to talk about that customer account. When I try to add an all hands or something like that, we focus on surface customer stories, and do that from international and whatnot, putting that focus on the customers and the value you’re providing. It’s not only more meaningful, it’s something that has … The revenue will follow if things are somewhat properly right. I think that’s far more of what I believe in and care in. And that goes back to that, it doesn’t have to be this time-box window of creating something. I’d argue you can create a lot of innovation. You can [inaudible] a lot of category, or create a category even over time, but yeah.
Nathan: Yeah. This is really interesting to me, because yeah, look, we’re with Maropost, have been for some time. And we do also use Infusionsoft as our CRM as well. But we use Maro to do most of our mailing now. Maybe because of deliverability and stuff like that, and they’re more mid-market. But look, to be honest, Active Campaign was always … Everyone’s saying that you guys have a very, very good name, reputation in the marketplace. If we were going to move anywhere, if we weren’t with … No, Active Campaign is a place that we would look. I’ve heard the deliverability’s really solid. I heard the integrations are really solid. I’ve heard … Yeah, it’s a really, really solid tool.
And what’s most interesting to me, is this space of between 2003 and 2016 when you were doing the on-premise software you’ve had insane growth from 2016 to 2019. I assume in terms of revenue and growth, a lot of it’s come in the past four years, and then you’ve decided to … So, you went to SAS, and then you decided to raise a series A. What changed? Why after 13 years … Because this is crazy growth. You said you’ve gone from 20 to 600 people. Yeah, a lot has changed. Usually you don’t see growth like this. It’s usually slow and steady on the up. I’m curious, what changed? Did you have an epiphany? Did you bring on a partner of some sorts to help? Or what was it? A person?
Jason: No, it wasn’t … We couldn’t have done any of this without an amazing group of … During that first 10 years we only grew to eight people, right. But the realisation, by building now each of these individual tools, and like … When we built that help desk, it wasn’t just managing tickets and emails flows, it was how do we make ourselves more efficient through automation. So not only, not are we just trying to automate the customers experience, we want to automate as much as we can to help the person at Active Campaign helping that customer. Meaning, automation overdone leads to really bad results. So what we want to do is help enable the rep so you can still have that personal touch as well.
And we started doing that in every single little piece, and that created this view of, “What if we could do this across everything?” And then, instantly we thought of the classical way a lot of people have tried to do this in the past. Of, “Okay, we could have all these products. We could merge them all together, and we’ll have this business product.” And it’ll be like, “I’ll solve everything for everyone.” And the end result as we all know is it goes super wide on functionality, super shallow on depth. And ultimately a business can’t find everything they’re looking to do. Even like you just mentioned. You have a couple different tools that you integrate with because you probably like certain pieces of each one. And businesses of all sizes want that.
And I think there’s this … By working with small businesses, especially at the time, I think there was this idea of all in ones are simple, and small businesses are simple. There’s nothing really simple about small business, because they want to have even more personalization. They want to have even more of a crafted customer experience half the time because that’s how they differentiate from bigger brands. They want to bring that authenticity of who they are and what they’re providing throughout. What we often find is even with a small business, they’re trying to bring even more tools together, but they still want to have that almost all-in-one native feel to it. So they want the best of both worlds, which means something has to work on how do you bring data together, make it actionable, automated across different things? Messaging plays a big role in this, so we do a lot of messaging and whatnot. But how do you take automation beyond just trying send something out, or beyond just trying to get and close customers, but through the whole thing.
So we had that decision moment back then of, “We can choose to be the all-in-one, on-premise.” That would’ve been a fun call. Glad we didn’t do that. Could choose to be all-in-one and a SAS solution, or we can continue on all these point solutions. And we ultimately decided … We saw this big opportunity. And we had … Obviously it was a much smaller business then, but it was a really amazing business. We were having a lot of fun developing things, had amazing customers, so we had a lot lose to make that. But when you see such an opportunity, and we saw so many people going at it with a different approach. Particularly like that, “We’re going to build everything, and it’s going to be good for someone.” That felt like, “Let’s go after this.” And then, as we started going it really started to resonate, helping us create that growth.
Nathan: Yeah, and why did you decide to raise capital?
Jason: Yeah, it was later in 2016. We’d already seen a tonne of momentum. We didn’t have to, but that was always key. I wanted to … If we were to raise, I didn’t want it to be at a moment where we had to, for surely. And then, two, I just thought that optimal timing of this felt like the right time. I also wanted … Now, keep in mind I was working for over 10 years with no outside pressure, if you will. In a weird way, I almost wanted that outside … I could have gotten a variety of other ways possibly without having to raise capital. And being able to do it in a way where maybe they can’t necessarily controlled decisions, but even I can just make sad, or have someone questioning ideas, and questioning what we’re doing or helping. I thought there would be value there too. And that’s what started having me just even talk to people. And then, ultimately I just found a firm with some folks that really seemed to understand.
Not just the market and what we’re doing, but the approach and the difference of how we’re going to go after it. Someone that wasn’t going to necessarily just push us into the current playbook of see some success, move up market. And so, looking back, could we have done everything without raising? Yeah, but at the same time they’ve added a tonne of value, and I wouldn’t actually take any of it back whatsoever. There’s also … Even if you’re running a business that’s doing really well and all that, and you don’t necessarily need it. Anything you can do to sleep a little bit better at night, and in this case even more cash in the business. That allows you freedom to think, innovate, and push on things in a different way, And that’s worth something.
Nathan: Yeah. I see, and I guess … It sounds like the firm that you’re working with are founder first.
Jason: Very much so, and the funny thing is every firm will say they’re founder first, including the one’s that are probably the exact opposite. But by spending some time, and more importantly, talking to other people that have worked with them and whatnot, I got them. I was confident with that, but couldn’t say better things about them today.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s awesome. And then, I’m curious as well, you talked about customer first, versus product first. Can we delve a little deeper on that? Because in the software world, or even Silicon Valley tech world, they obsess with product. It’s all about the product. Product, product, product. The best product wins. How do you build a 10X product in the marketplace, and take the market? You have a different approach.
Jason: Yeah, I have a different thought on that. If you only focused on product, it creates a lot of issue in situations throughout the organisation in my mind. By focusing on being customer first, you do need a product that isn’t the opposite of something a customer could use, right? That goes back to how can you provide more of that partner feel to a business. Where it’s not just a bunch of functions, features, things like that, but you give them ideas. But you’re never going to be able to do enough there fast enough on the product front. That’s also where being customer first comes into play.
And so, we’ll do things … And a lot of things are ways to grow that your peers may not be able to do because they’re larger. We offer free migration. So if someone’s using another platform, we’ll help move all the data over for free. Most people would charge for that, because that’s what would make sense. We offer free strategy sessions and things like that. And so, even, we had a freemium offering for a short period of time, and we offered free strategy sessions for all the freemium accounts, and it wasn’t sales or anything.
And yeah, it was a dumb thing on paper, but we learned so much during that period of time. We also arguably created advocates in a unique way. So if you only focus on the product, and you only focus on just building that, you almost think of your customers as a second to that, and it’s just switching that order. Which seems like … I think the actual change for what it means to a product [inaudible] isn’t that much, it’s the rest of the company where it matters so much. It’s that constant drum beat of anytime you’re bringing everyone together, you’re surfacing true, actual conversations with your customers. Instead of just getting dashboards and reports of like, “What’s our CSAT and NPS?” And whatnot.
No, let’s get the raw text from what customers are saying. Let’s relate that to that person, and share snippets of that. Because reading into the tone and whatnot is far more powerful than you see in a graph of this NPS is going up or down. That doesn’t really drive someone, and that doesn’t really get down to not necessarily what data together says, but what is potentially a way of solving for whatever they’re having an issue for, if they are having one. In a way that’s not directly how they think it should be solved, but something that could even be greater.
Nathan: There’s an interesting approach. So, when you say you shouldn’t do what customer say, when it comes to product development, that’s a pretty standard playbook. If you don’t do that, how do you know how to build a great product?
Jason: Yeah. And so, one, I think you should have some thought or conviction around what you’re trying to solve at a super hight level, right? If you only look at directly what your customers are asking for, it’s probably going to mirror what’s on the market to a good degree. On top of that, you’re probably looking at all your competitors at the same time, and thinking they must be doing really well, this is the direction we have to go in. That stifles your ability to actually innovate or create something. It’s not that you don’t care about your customers. It’s not that you won’t actually solve what their asking for. It’s just trying to do it in a way that isn’t necessarily exactly how they prescribed.
Meaning, like there’s been times where we’ve released functionality in terms of adding in more sales components and whatnot, and different pieces of automation. Where if internally it actually almost cause more conflict at times, because people weren’t asking for it. And if you’re building something that people are not asking for, it’s somewhat counterintuitive. But that, often times is … It might also be something that nobody wants at times, too. So you have to be careful, but you need to allow some room for that. And then, obviously, you’ll solve, hopefully through some of that, some of the common themes. But this goes back to, I think it’s the power of working with small businesses and whatnot. It gives you this flexibility of having some freedom to operate like that.
Whereas, if we shifted and had a couple customers that really drove all the demand, then you don’t have that … Then you have to solve for those more immediate needs, which is fine because there’s plenty of businesses that do that, just a different approach.
Nathan: So when it comes to growth, one thing you said that you guys are proud of is typical SAS playbook, is to obtain growth you go up market. That’s something that you guys haven’t done yet, or that much that you’re proud of. Can you elaborate on that a bit more, please?
Jason: Yeah. I think if you’re trying to solve … Take what we’re trying to solve. We’re trying to solve customer experience automations, automating across an entire customer lifecycle. The differences that exist for a small business, a mid-market enterprise, are different. There’s different tools, there’s different complexity, things like that. But just like we’re trying to help people personalise their own customer experience, I think we could personalise a platform for that, and cater it to them. Surface suggestions around their data, things like that. I don’t think you actually have to, and I think as you move up, it narrows your ability to innovate because you become more reliant.
For us it’s meant we always have automation accessible all the way down to $9 a month. And that’s key, because it’s like every business at some point is a small business, right? And so, we want to work with them. We want to be able to help fuel that. Also, the fact that we have a 100,000 companies using our platform, that’s an amazing growth vehicle. Most of our traffic, most of our growth comes in organically. And that’s because we’re focused on, not just offering a small business accessible version, but we’re actually trying to help make them be successful so they are those advocates, and that’s what creates so much. So if you were to move off of that, that’s another disadvantage you have, of the way of, “That won’t exist.”
Now, it might be easier to do paid advertising, things like that, just because of the economics of it all. But I think we’re seeing more brands and Shopify is a good example as well of just being [inaudible] democratising ability for eCommerce in their case, right? While at the same time serving mid-market enterprise. I think the problems are more similar than they’re different. A lot of our functionality we thought that small businesses needed. Mid-market actually really likes … They were fine declaring a bunch of automation statements before, because they had to. But if they can save time on some of that, and then push on some other things, they will.
Nathan: Yeah, I see. When it comes to growth, you went from 20 to 600 people. If you do the math, that’s like … In the past four years, that’s almost a new person every week, right? More.
Jason: Yeah, probably more, yeah.
Nathan: How did you manage that?
Jason: Yeah, that’s a good question. It’s been a bit of a learning. I think part of it goes back to what I was saying is controlling the growth however we could. It’s always felt like a little bit of catching up to momentum. But like I mentioned, some people would say we should have grown faster. And I think finding how can you stay ahead, how can you help people internally become the leaders for the next phase, and when you’re growing that quickly, next phase can be very soon. And then just building up support throughout. In addition, the same customer mentality we have, trying to take that internally as well.
Surveying health scores and whatnot of how people are feeling in different parts of the organisation as you start to get more feeling of there’s tension. It’s often times related to we’re growing too fast for the current structure, the current frame and whatnot. And there’s been times where we just pause or slow down, and let the organisation catch up. But it’s been … It’s the most fascinating part of the whole thing, I guess I’d say. I come from more of an engineering background, but the power of just like that, amazing people and bringing them together, and trying to figure out how can you do that. [inaudible] getting in your own, that’s a problem I can’t say we fully solved by any means, but it’s a fascinating thing to keep working on.
Nathan: You talked about having your people ready for those different stages of growth. Have you been able to do that, or you’ve had to bring in trained executives?
Jason: Yeah, it’s a bit of a mixture, and I think that’s probably a healthy way of doing it, meaning just, I don’t think we could do it all internally. Because at some point you have to hire, and gain even different perspectives. So while we’re being small business first, I want people with a mid-market or enterprise mindset. I want people to pushing on all different ideas from different directions. At the same time, I want people that are starting today with Active Campaign to be pushing on whatever we’re doing, and whatever the norm is. So building that culture of just questioning. And I think it’s something you just have to reiterate, and just … And also be okay when people do that, which I think a lot … It goes back to companies will say a lot of things, and then once people actually do it, it’ll be like … It was just for a talking point or something. So it’s a … I don’t know. It’s a fun thing.
Nathan: Did you expect, when you raise that series A that you guys would grow this fast?
Jason: Yeah. Not to the degree we have. I don’t think I’ve ever fully expected that. Just given you’re always in the moment at any given stage. And especially then, we were so much in the building of the business, and building of the different areas of the business. It was hard to step outside of that day itself, and the peaks and valleys within the day. We were seeing momentum now before raising, and that’s probably the reason why we did. We knew we were on to something. But yeah, it’s the ability to work with all of these amazing people that now we’re really just … That’s been a big growth area for myself as well. It’s a humbling experience.
Nathan: Yeah, I’d love to talk about … Just working towards wrapping up, but I’d love to talk about everything that’s happening in the world. Covid-19, we haven’t even touched on that. Have you guys been affected? What are you guys doing to respond?
Jason: Yeah, we’re doing everything we can to help our customers. We have a lot of small businesses and whatnot. The best way we can do that is being that partner to them. Both programmatically, but also with our customer success team. I we’re seeing amazing stories. We’ve had a tour company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin transform, and they gave in person tours. Over night, the whole business is done, right? But they were able to transform, and now they ship out products from different areas, and they do more of a virtual tour. And They’ve actually gotten some good growth with that, and we’ve been able to … Witnessing all of these amazing stories has been truly exciting. And trying to take that and share some of those strategies with others. As a business, we’re fortunate to be in that area where we’re able to help with engaging with your customers.
It’s never been more difficult to engage with your customers, but to do so in a meaningful way. Meaning like, I’m sure you’ve seen, and everyone’s gotten 500 emails about a brand you’ve never heard about that you maybe bought something from, that’s now just giving their update on what their doing and whatnot. That’s not what I mean when I say authentic messaging and getting to your customers. That’s an area where we’re able to help in a bit of a unique way. We’re seeing a lot of brands start to work with us even faster. I think there’s a form of digital transformation that’s definitely … If it wasn’t a priority before, becomes a necessity, and that’s something we fully take on as we’ll do whatever we can to help them.
Nathan: That was awesome. Yeah, no it’s a incredibly crazy time right now. We’re trying to produce as much content as we can to serve, and do whatever we can for our community as well. Working towards wrapping up, what’s exciting for you in the future, and also … Yeah, what’s exciting?
Jason: Yeah, we’ve been over 55% international in terms of customers for quite some time. Within the last year or so we’ve been starting to build that out with more focus, and we’ve just seen tremendous results. Both from a business growth standpoint, but also, what does that mean to our product. What does that mean to our company, of how we work with customers? [inaudible] all these different views. So that’s truly exciting. And then, also just what we’re doing in terms of how do we make automation even more powerful faster for people. Meaning, how do we make it so that no two customers with a brand share the same experience. Where that content or that timing is different, and being able to do that with even small data sets, and small businesses, and whatnot.
We have a lot of innovation that we have already started to bring out, and we’re going to continue to bring out. And that’s just a really exciting area where we can then be there for a business with the idea, and deliver a personalised experience that feels crafted to that individual. One that the consumer actually likes, and enjoys, and expects, and that’s the type of impact we want to have on customer experiences throughout.
Nathan: Yeah, love it. Two last questions. One, where’s the best place people can find out more about yourself and Active Campaign. And then, two, what would be just your parting words of wisdom that you would like to share for our audience, early stage startup founders. Either just about to launch something, or have launched something, been working on for a couple of years.
Jason: Yeah, can find more at activecampaign.com. Can reach out to me directly on LinkedIn or email@example.com. As far as people starting and whatnot, I think it’s … I would just, trust your instincts a little bit, and allow some time and whatnot. I mean, the problem that exists all too often is we see playbooks, we see stories, we see outliers and special situations or something like that, and we think we have to mould to that to create traction, to create growth, to create a business. And all too often that can lead you down the wrong path, so I think it’s really trusting your instincts on that a little bit. And trying to find a path that is a little bit differentiated. Maybe it takes a little bit longer. Maybe it’s not going to get that news article in year one, or even year 10. But if you are passionate about it, enjoy it, and have that strength to find your way through that, go for it.
Nathan: Yeah, awesome. Thank you so much for your time, Jason.
Jason: Yeah, thank you.
Nathan: This was an awesome conversation, and yeah, congratulations on all of your success thus far. I know you guys are doing great work, and yeah, continue to prosper.
Jason: Likewise, thanks, appreciate it.
The post 318: Global SaaS Powerhouse ActiveCampaign CEO Jason VandeBoom Talks About the Importance of Following Your Instincts appeared first on Foundr.